For those of you have followed along with this blog for a while, you’ll certainly know that part of my year-end tradition is looking back at the photos I’ve taken for the year, and choosing my 5 favorites.  I started this tradition back in 2015 (if you want to know the “why” behind the practice, check out that post) and I enjoyed it so much that I have since gone back and picked favorites for every year all the way back to 2010.  Well, with this year being the start of a new decade, I wanted to pause one more time to look back – not at the previous year, but the last decade – and I hope you get a tiny fraction of the enjoyment out of this as I do.

When I sat down to narrow my pictures down to 5, I thought that there was perhaps a few ways to go about it.  I could choose based on how long each picture has been on the walls of our home (I’m embarrassed to say that many of my images have yet to be printed… even two of these!), or how popular the image was on social media… or even the number of times an image has been sold (or stolen! < that’ll make more sense in a minute)… but in the end, I decided to approach it the same way I do my annual selection, which is simply to say, the images I happen to like the best.  Interestingly, I had an easier time with this than I imagined.  As time has gone by, so also has the emotional attachment to the individual images, which I think made it easier to look at the images objectively (and toss them out!).

Anyway, on to the images!

–Dan Thompson

2012 – John Oliver Cabin

This is the image that “set the hook” for me for night photography (you can read the original post about it here).  I was quite addicted to it already, but this is the first night image I felt like I knocked out of the park.  Since that time, my interest in star trails has come and gone, and now been mostly replaced with my love of capturing the Milky Way, but interestingly enough, my star trail images consistently get more “likes” and comments than the Milky Way images do (subsequently this was the first image I ever won a competition with!).  There is just something about visualizing the earth spinning that captivates people!

2013 – The Charles Bridge (remastered)

Like a lot of my images, I’ve modified this one a number of different times over the years; each time tweaking something different (you can see the original iteration of it here).  In the original version, I actually cropped the lamp on the left out because it bothered me that the light was out.  The longer I’ve looked at it though, the more I like the balance it brings to the image.  Over the years I’ve also improved my editing skills, and was finally able to pull the color in the sky out a little better than in my original edit, which I think adds to the mood, and better represents what I remember in my mind about the scene.

2016 – Sunset at Rano Raraku

2016 was an incredible year.  Two of my top five were from 2016, and I owe that to the fact that I visited two amazing locations that year!  Holly and I started the year off in Easter Island, and what an amazing trip it was.  This was actually our second trip to the island, and though I was frustrated with a lot of the new, and overly restrictive rules that have been put in place since our first visit, I still managed to come away with some images I’m REALLY happy with – and some images even from 2016 that you can’t get any more because of even stricter rules now.  Politics aside, Easter Island is still a place that captures my imagination, and one that I would go back to in a heartbeat.  It’s just an amazing place, and I believe this sunset captures that essence. You can check out the original post here.

Funny enough – and I’m actively choosing the word funny – this is also my most stolen image!  A number of travel agencies around the world have chosen to use this image without my permission to advertise trips to Easter Island.  I’m working to get them to take it down (or buy it!), but alas, not all countries mind copyright laws as we do here in the US (or at least as easy to bring legal action in!).

2016 – The Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Ah Bhutan! Talk about a place that still captures my imagination and that I’d go back to in a heartbeat!  Bhutan was simply amazing, and our visit to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery was definitely the highlight of the trip.  The building is amazing, and its surroundings somehow more so.  We lucked out and had really nice light the day we went, which created the scene above.  This image has hung on my wall since 2016!  I note above that I took the image in 2016, but it didn’t actually publish until 2017 because I was running so far behind that year in Picture of the Week.  That’s always a good problem to have!

2018 – The Wave

The swamps of East Texas really surprised me!  I had seen several pictures from there by my friend Steve Zigler, but had no idea how enchanting of a place it was until seeing it first hand.  This is an image that I took, and then didn’t think much of until I looked back at it later.  When I saw it on the back of my camera while eating dinner, I was floored!  That’s the first image I went to when I got home to edit, and I’m still in love with it.  It definitely makes me want to go back and try for more!

This image wins the popularity contest.  For quite a long time it was my most “liked” image on social media, before being surpassed by this image this past fall (I never posted that one to POTW because I liked some of my other stream scenes better – go figure!)  The image made the cut of the top 50 images posted on Flickr for 2018, which garnered all the attention.

My 5 Favorite Photos from Past Years

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